We can almost hear it already…
GO LEAFS GO!
BOOOOOO, bad call ref!
AND ONE! Free throw, let’s go.
As patio season comes to an end (and MLB along with it), we’re looking forward to the NBA and NHL starting up again. And, we’re excited for the return of fans roaring over tough shots, buzzer beater baskets/goals, and bad calls from refs. The cheering and general vibe of a restaurant or lounge during an exciting game is the next best thing to watching the game live at the stadium.
All restaurants and restaurant lounges can benefit from understanding what sports fans want. This includes fine dining establishments with lounge areas – even you can increase your revenues by catering slightly to sports fans. And no, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have fans yelling at TVs and ruining your restaurant’s ambience! A TV in your lounge with the game on in a discreet corner may mean the difference between a busy night and a slow night.
So what are you doing to attract sports fans? We have some tips to help you out.
Pay for the games and get them on your TVs.
If you’re a fine dining establishment, setting up a TV in the lounge is a great way to attract new clientele. There’s nothing worse than traveling for work or pleasure solo and sitting at a table or bar top with nothing to entertain you, especially if you’re trying to conserve your phone’s battery. A game is always something to focus your attention on, even if you’re not a fan!
For all restaurants, ordering a special program — like a boxing or UFC match, or an out-of-market game — can be a small cost to you, but a big driver of interest for sports fans. Customers who aren’t subscribed to a particular pay-per-view event will come out and spend money on drinks and food with you.
Pro tip: make sure you’re advertising that you’re playing the game wherever you have followers (social media channels, website, etc.) and don’t forget to put up some posters for foot traffic!
Be a fan!
If you can get local sports fans excited about what you’re doing, they’ll flock in to spend game nights with you. Offer game night giveaways based on the performance of particular players or the game itself (free appetizer if the Raptors score enough 3-pointers), name drinks or dishes after teams or players, or even just chat with your tables about the game!
People want to feel welcome and connected with the world around them. Lean into what you know about your customers and use it to make those connections.
Create intriguing drink specials and limited time offers.
It’s a cliche but when you think about sports, you often think about beer, wings, and pizza. It’s all part of the experience! Offering game day only specials that you know your customers will want will help draw sports fans into your restaurant. When your food and drinks are delicious and you’re offering them at a discount, sports fans will have little reason to pick another restaurant!
But you don’t have to reduce the price of menu items for this to work – you can also opt for offering a bonus with purchase (enter to win two game tickets with every purchase of a pound of wings).
Make sure you’re marketing to the fans.
Purchase ads that are sure to be seen
Buying ad space with sports teams can be expensive but it’s a great way to get in front of the exact audience that you’re looking to attract. Seeing your logo on the boards around the ice can help hockey fans subliminally connect your brand with the game they love. That means that the next away game is spent drinking your beer and eating your food.
Other ways to get seen (and heard)
If that’s not in the budget, running TV or radio advertisements during local broadcasts can be more cost-effective. Remember, effectively advertising that you’re playing the game and offering specials for fans on social media can also go a long way to getting people through the door!
Another strategy could be through sponsorships of local teams. People who watch sports generally play them, too. Sponsoring a league or a local team will help the players and their fans connect your establishment with the sport they love and draw them into your restaurant or lounge.
Good food and good drinks go a long way.
Beer, wings, and pizza aren't exactly gourmet food, but that doesn't mean they have to be simple or run of the mill. More and more diners are looking for interesting or “elevated” food options (we see you, fellow foodies!). The days of pepperoni and cheese aren’t gone, but they’re alive and well with their gorgonzola and pancetta cousin. Offering gluten-free, vegan, and more experimental options will help your patrons find items that keep them coming back.
Bring your sports fans strategy to life with Ameego
Now that you’ll be serving more sports fans regularly, you’ll need to make updates to your staff schedule to maintain the level of service you strive to consistently offer! Book a consultation with our team to learn more about how Ameego can help you optimize your labour with detailed reports into key metrics, one-touch scheduling, and more.